Mariners move past Tigers into second AL Wild Card spot

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After losing their grip on the division lead to the Royals earlier this week, the Tigers have now fallen behind the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.

The Mariners defeated the Tigers 7-2 last night at Comerica Park in Detroit to extend their winning streak to five games. James Paxton tossed six innings of one-run ball in the victory while Robinson Cano went 2-for-4 with his 11th home run of the season. Rick Porcello struggled in the loss, giving up six runs (five earned) on 10 hits over six innings.

Losers of seven out of their last 10, the Tigers are currently 1 1/2 games behind the Royals in the American League Central and a half-game behind the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot. Still, there’s a long way to go in the season and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told Jason Beck of MLB.com that this isn’t the time to panic.

“I’d much rather be in first place up by 15 games, but that’s not the case,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’re just going to keep going. There’s a ton of baseball left. We didn’t win tonight, but we can’t change it, so we’ll come back tomorrow against a very tough pitcher. But luckily for us, they’re going against a tough pitcher as well.”

The matchup Ausmus was alluding to is David Price vs. Felix Hernandez, which should be a lot of fun to watch later tonight.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”